Touchdown: U.S. arrives in South Africa & more

i-30964f14fade9fecaafbe064836ea2cf-us arrives.jpgCamera-toting Oguchi Onyewu and the rest of the U.S. team arrived today in Johannesburg (AP Photo).

Read the full story:

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The U.S. World Cup team arrived in Johannesburg on Monday following a 17-hour flight and was greeted by the same visible security presence that was on hand for the arrival for other countries.

Armed special task-force members, dressed in dark blue uniforms, surrounded the South African Airways plane at the O.R. Tambo airport as the players emerged on a cool, overcast afternoon.

After leading his team off the plane, coach Bob Bradley immediately picked out the opening game against England on June 12 as a chance to make an impression on the tournament.

“There has been a lot of attention on our first game with England,” Bradley said. “It’s a great opportunity for us. But we certainly know that Slovenia and Algeria are excellent teams. It will be a tough group and we are looking forward to it.

Plainclothes security officials, wearing earpieces and sunglasses, also patrolled the arrivals facility — set aside for World Cup teams — where the Americans cleared immigration.

The U.S. should be familiar with its surroundings after it made an impressive showing in the Confederations Cup in South Africa last year. Bradley’s team reached the final and played in Rustenburg, Pretoria and Johannesburg at the same venues it visits in the group stages.

“We’re very fortunate that we have had experience here,” Bradley said on the airport tarmac. “The people here in South Africa have always treated us so well so in that regard, it’s a comfortable feeling to be back for the World Cup. … The travel went really well and the team is looking to get started with our work here.”

Dressed in blue-and-red team tracksuits, the U.S. players then boarded a bus for the 25-minute drive up to their base at the Irene Country Lodge, a luxurious, rural-style hotel in a village between Johannesburg and the capital city Pretoria.

The lodge is billed as “a haven of peace and tranquility in the hub of South Africa’s economic heartland.”

The group was greeted by dancing and singing staff members on its arrival at the hotel. Police then led sniffer dogs through the rooms in a final security sweep before the players were allowed in.

A colorful vuvuzela — the plastic trumpet which is set to be a constant feature at the World Cup — was left in each player’s room as a welcome gift.

The hotel is where the U.S. will begin to get used to the cool, early winter conditions ahead of a final warmup match against Australia on Saturday.

“I think the weather here is great for football,” Bradley said. “It’s going to mean that the games are played at a good tempo. We have enough time between now and June 12 to acclimatize so I think, on that end, it’s going to be a great World Cup.”

More reaction, photos and, yes, stats on the U.S. arrival – 89 bags were unloaded from the airplane in 16 minutes – from the official U.S. blog. Hope they tipped the baggage handlers.

Meanwhile, Mexico firmed up their World Cup squad today:

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany (AP) – Barcelona midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos was the major casualty when Mexico announced its final 23-man World Cup roster Monday.

Dos Santos’ older brother Giovani, who plays for Turkish club Galatasaray, was on the team announced by coach Javier Aguirre on the Mexican soccer federation’s website.

Aguirre did not comment on the roster at the team’s training base in southern Germany.

Mexico plays the World Cup opener on June 11 against host South Africa and also faces Uruguay and France in Group A.

The full squad is here.

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Sunday Soccer: Japan is its own worst enemy as England win, while Mexico coasts over Gambia

i-a8a51d9ae67ead97b7b5fcfb04c71317-rooneystride.jpgDespite this picture, Wayne Rooney and England didn’t really hit their stride in their win over Japan today (AP Photo).

In what is becoming a hallmark of a Fabio Capello coached England team, Wayne Rooney and company were anything but fab against the Japanese in Austria today, but still managed to win their final warm-up before meeting the U.S. June 12 in South Africa.

Two Japan own goals – one from a spectacular diving header – the other from a well-timed ill-timed toe poke gave England a 2-1 victory, but Frank Lampard illustrated just how predictable England are by missing a penalty kick that everyone in the stadium including the opposing goalkeeper knew just where he was going to place it. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard will get more than chuckle or two when he sees that from an EPL player he knows all too well.

England badly misses someone capable of doing the unexpected (like the long-retired John Barnes) or even the expected and accurate (like the long-injured David Beckham).

And it’s never a good sign when your coach is more animated on the sideline than his players are on the field.

As long as Bob Bradley’s boys aren’t quite as accommodating and tepid England sputter like this, the Americans will have more than a chance of winning their group opener.

Game story

Lowlights here

Meanwhile Mexico routed Gambia 5-1 today

More World Cup news is here (scroll down) at our new World Cup page.

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Galaxy outmans Crew

Columbus Crew 0 Galaxy 2

When I was in elementary school in England a teacher wrote in my report card something to the effect that Nicholas determines the minimum amount of work needed to get the job done.

And does it. Successfully.

I bet the Galaxy can relate.

In a battle of the final two unbeaten MLS teams the Galaxy had three shots. They scored on two. It has been like that all season.

From the Galaxy:

The shutout was the Galaxy’s fifth straight and ninth in 11 games this season. The Galaxy have not allowed a goal in the last 456 minutes of play dating back to May 1.

Economical. Successful. How can you argue?

Game story

Rookie Michael Stephens’ opening goal was a treat. And in case you were wondering, Alan Gordon was out injured.

Van Nuys’ Tristan Bowen acquitted himself well in his second MLS start.

Brazilian Juninho missed the game due to a death in the family back in Brazil.

Galaxy lineup: Donovan Ricketts; Todd Dunivant, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza; Michael Stephens, Chris Birchall (Bryan Jordan 83′), Jovan Kirovski, Sean Franklin (Chris Klein 83′); Tristan Bowen, Mike Magee (Clint Mathis 65′).

The Columbus perspective

MLS standings

Next: Houston Dynamo Saturday at Home Depot Center.

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U.S. stuffs Turkey

U.S. 2 Turkey 1

i-015f81d000a3d37ba2e224278c6c1d5e-findleyturky.jpgFormer Galaxy striker Robbie Findley, above, was a difference-maker for the U.S. today in their come from behind win against the Turks in Philadelphia in their final game before leaving for South Africa. (AP Photos).

As was Jose Francisco Torres, who similarly came on as a second half sub and on this basis should be starting for the U.S.. Torres looked like the player he is: one who regularly starts in the top class Mexican league and displayed the maturity, confidence, vision and speed in possession the U.S. sorely lacked in the first half.

In fact, Torres was unlucky not to help himself to an 88th minute goal with a smartly taken direct free kick that fooled the Turkish goalkeeper and went just wide.

Findley created the first U.S. goal with a measured ball over the Turkish defense that found a speeding Landon Donovan making an intelligent and decisive run wide who crossed the ball to Jozy Altidore at the far post.

The second in the 75th minute was finished by Clint Dempsey, looking every part the bustling, old-fashioned English centre forward as he claimed the winner.

Read the game story here

U.S. lineup: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Jonathan Spector (6-Steve Cherundolo, 46), 15-Jay Demerit, 21-Clarence Goodson (5-Oguchi Onyewu, 46), 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.) (12-Jonathan Bornstein, 75); 10-Landon Donovan, 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Ricardo Clark (26-Jos Torres, 46), 16-Benny Feilhaber (27-Robbie Findley, 46); 8-Clint Dempsey, 17-Jozy Altidore (22-Stuart Holden, 81)
Subs not used: 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Maurice Edu, 23-Marcus Hahnemann, 29-Edson Buddle, 30-Herculez Gomez



*It was a familiar story for the U.S. in the first half: reacting to plays rather than making them, ceding far too much possession to their opponents and looking glacially slow in defense (in particular a lumbering Jay Demerit).

*Full back Jonathan Spector had a first half nightmare getting beaten far too easily, getting caught out of position upfield on the Turkish goal after attempting to dribble through the Turkish defense (although no-one covered for him either).

*Once again Chivas USA’s Jonathan Bornstein allowed himself to get beaten far too easily as well when he came on as a sub and didn’t come close to inspiring any sort of confidence.


*I already mentioned Torres and Findley; anyone else worried the Real Salt Lake striker appears one of the few U.S. players capable of stretching opposing defenses (Donovan is another, of course)? I couldn’t help thinking how useful winger Robbie Rogers could have been on this day (especially since we never saw DaMarcus Beasley at all, who I’m assuming just beat him out of a place in the squad).

*We tend to take goalkeeper Tim Howard for granted in part because he makes things look so easy. We shouldn’t. He reminded his defense just what he expects of them and reminded us how crucial his saves are when needed.

i-5b5b30daee4506f715aad41d3fa4d7ab-fanmask.jpgPhilly fan.

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Landon’s story


Excellent summation of the career of the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan from the Associated Press:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Landon Donovan turned inward, trying to find out who he is.

He was a joy-filled 20-year-old in 2002 who helped lead the United States to its best World
Cup finish in 72 years, filled with optimism and thoughts that one day he and his teammates could lift the gold trophy above their shoulders.

Four years later, it was more like world on his shoulders than the World Cup, his mind weighed down by the expectations his precocious talent had created.

Soccer had become the burden of his life instead of the passion.

Now, two weeks from his third World Cup, he sounds at peace. With the demands, with his
talent, and with himself. It’s been a long road.

“It started eight years ago on July 4, after an LA Galaxy-San Jose Earthquake game where I met my now ex-wife Bianca, who has taught me more about myself than I’ve ever known, and continues to do that,” he said. “And that was the beginning of it all.”

In addition to being the top American soccer player, he’s the most well-spoken, a critical
analyst of himself and the game. What other player would credit his growth to his former wife, Bianca Kajlich, and speak of her so glowingly?

“Bianca is an actress and if any of you know what that life is like, it can be miserable at
times, and she has fought very hard for everything she has gotten,” he said. “And I, on the
other hand, have been pretty blessed and fortunate with the ability that I’ve been given and also the opportunities I’ve been given. And when you get that perspective and realize that you can’t take things for granted, it hits you real. It hits you hard when it comes from your wife and your best friend.”

Setting records with 42 goals and 42 assists, he already is the most accomplished offensive player in American national team history even though he’s just 28. Yet, much of the reputation he made by scoring twice at the 2002 World Cup was unmade when he virtually disappeared at the 2006 tournament, unwilling to get into the flow of the game or even to want the ball.

He was unsure of his place on the team, uncomfortable leading in a group that included Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride. No longer the just-past-teenage star who was selected MVP of the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, he was stranded between the goalposts of youth and maturity.

“Landon was in a tough situation. In 2006, we didn’t have quite the leadership we needed,”
said Bruce Arena, the former national team coach who now leads Donovan’s Los Angeles Galaxy. “One of Landon’s faults in he’s in some ways a little too intelligent.”

Back then, Donovan needed to be content to perform. When he wasn’t in a good frame of mind off the field, it showed on the pitch.

“I think Landon kind of shuts down as a person when he’s not happy,” Kajlich said during
qualifying in 2005.

He struggled to gain acceptance as a top club player, and that caused him to go back and forth across the Atlantic in search of satisfaction.

Although he signed a six-year deal with Bayer Leverkusen as a 16-year-old in 1999 and left California for Germany, he didn’t play a game in two years and was loaned to the San Jose Earthquakes of MLS in 2001.

He rejoined Leverkusen in January 2005 and made nine appearances, but was unhappy being so far from Kajlich. He lasted just two months on his second stint in Europe and returned to Major League Soccer with the Galaxy.

Europe stint No. 3 was just as unrewarding. He was loaned to German power Bayern Munich in January 2009 and failed to score in six competitive matches. Listening to Juergen Klinsmann, Bayern Munich’s coach at the time, Donovan was given a mental hazing by Bayern’s stars.

“They don’t tell you, you know, ‘Good to have you here, you know. We give you the starting
spot.’ They tell you the opposite,” Klinsmann said.

Instead of three strikes and you’re out, Donovan returned to Europe for a fourth time when he was loaned to Everton this January. The culture and the soccer were more to his taste (even if he cold, cloudy weather was not). The Toffees were 5-7-7 when he joined, and he scored two goals in 13 games, getting voted player of the month for January. Everton finished its Premier League season at 16-9-13.

“Absolutely outstanding,” Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. “I think they wanted him to stay but the agreement was he had to go back.”

Support from his teammates in England was key.

“When I went to Everton, there was immediate respect, and that was eye-opening for me, because I had never experienced that in Europe,” Donovan said. “I’ve always been pretty confident, but knowing that you can play against the best players in the world, week in, week out is a big boost. And that for me was the biggest thing.”

And when he went back to the Galaxy, he played some of his best soccer. With an impact far larger than his 5-foot-8 frame, he had an MLS-leading nine assists, helping the Galaxy to a 7-0-2 start before he reported to the national team. Even before the latest loan, he made peace with David Beckham following his critical comments about the English star in a book last year.

Donovan took over from Becks as the Galaxy captain. And, helped by Donovan’s distribution skills and overall influence, Edson Buddle became MLS’s leading scorer this season with nine goals in nine games. After not playing for the national team for seven years, he made the World Cup roster this week.

“I think that there were a lot of expectations placed on him and in retrospect he realized
that he didn’t know how to properly handle those expectations,” said Donovan’s longtime agent, Richard Motzkin. “How he worked through that with David and with his teammates and sort of reinstated himself as a leader of Galaxy was a very important time last summer.”

i-1e38fa5409f9f6655d379c0956e17a9c-LDkick.jpgDonovan had wanted to be a leader on the national team when Bob Bradley replaced Arena as coach in December 2006. He even told the new coach he was ready and willing.

He now thinks he was being presumptive.

“Looking back now, I realize that I wasn’t ready for that, and he probably saw that, too,”
Donovan said. “And so it takes time to learn those things. And for me, I want to earn it. I
don’t want to be given anything because I have played in a lot of games or I have a lot of experience. I want to earn it, and he’s made me earn it, and it feels better that way.”

Donovan is part on an American trio going to its third World Cup, joined by old buddy DaMarcus Beasley and Steve Cherundolo. In examining his head and heart, Donovan determined those were the keys for him, not his feet.

“I am who I am as a player now. I’m not going to learn how to shoot the ball better in the
next few years. The biggest improvement I’ve made has been mentally,” he said. “At 20, it was youthful exuberance and naivety and literally just playing every day because you loved to play every day. Now there’s more responsibility.

“In my opinion there’s also greater opportunity, and I enjoy the challenge of that now. In
2006, that became I think burdensome because I wasn’t ready for it, and now I’m ready for it. And I’m really excited for it.”

Motzkin’s mother was a psychoanalyst, and he thinks therapy helped Donovan learn about
himself. The struggles of the past few years have brought about a change.

“It’s made him appreciate and regain a love for soccer and a desire to really appreciate what he does for a living, and that every game is meaningful,” Motzkin said.

Donovan agrees that therapy, in part, helped him find contentment.

“I’m more real than I was. I’m more centered, and those things give you confidence, but also ease that whatever comes you’re going to be OK with,” he said.

Kajlich seems to be the key.

“Every comment I get when I would tell people I was going through a divorce was, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ And it’s not always the case that it has to be so sorry,” he said. “Sometimes you
learn more from those moments than anything, and for me certainly that was the case.

And it doesn’t have to be ugly. It doesn’t have to be nasty. It can be helpful and you can grow from it, and that’s what we both took out of it.”

Now he says he’s in the right frame of mind. When he takes the field, the rest of his life
gets put on hold instead of holding him back.

If the United States is to advance past the first round and make up for its awful exit of
2006, Donovan must lead the charge, starting June 12 against England.

“I changed the way I look at my career, the way I play,” he said. “I would almost say I’m a
180, that things have changed completely in almost a 180 from where I was four years ago.”

His list of changes goes on and on.

“Mentally, physically, from a motivation standpoint, understanding what it all means, the
importance of it, putting my career in context and understanding how important this tournament is,” he said. “A lot of things.”

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Experimentation over, U.S. turns to regulars against Turkey Saturday

i-059342d3cc5e16d697c839b8d1491611-Howardturks.jpgU.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard: ready to make his defenders an offer they can’t refuse (AP Photos).

Most regulars may return, but who will partner Jozy Altidore in the attack? Galaxy fans will undoubtedly be hoping Edson Buddle gets a chance. Remember, the game starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — There’s a bit of chaos when a national team comes together.

“We have own idea about things at Everton,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “And AC Milan have their own ideas. And Rennes have their own ideas. And Watford.”

By the time of the June 12 World Cup opener against England, all these players from different clubs will hopefully form a coherent team, and that process will accelerate Saturday when the United States plays Turkey in its last game before leaving for South Africa.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for the sendoff match at Lincoln Financial Field. Most starters were rested for Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, among them Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Howard.

“We’ll have a team that I think will be close to our regular team,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Friday.

Turkey, a 2002 World Cup semifinalist that failed to qualify for this year’s tournament, is a physical side with a reputation for rough play. The Turks are ranked 29th in the world, 15 places below the U.S. and four above the Czechs.

It is a far better test than four years ago, when the last three World Cup warmups were against Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia.

“We looks for these games to fine tune things. I don’t think playing teams of lesser quality is going to help us, at all,” defender Oguchi Onyewu said. “It’s going to help us pinpoint certain weaknesses or things we have to work on as a group.”

Onyewu, who is with AC Milan, returned Tuesday night from October surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee and appeared rusty, getting outjumped by Tomas Sivok for a header on the first Czech goal. Onyewu could form the back line with Watford’s Jay DeMerit, out since April 17 with an abdominal strain; and Rennes’ Carlos Bocanegra, sidelined since sports hernia surgery on May 5. Jonathan Spector or Steve Cherundolo could play on the right.

i-780d5717ee225189934e936becc1e8dc-Bradleyturks.jpg“Gooch’s situation is obviously a little different than the situations with Carlos and Jay,” Bradley said. “In Gooch’s case we all know that that type of injury, being out that long, now when you come back, getting games, there’s little hurdles to get over in terms of just plays where now the reaction speed is different, and you’ve just got to be able to make a play without thinking about it. I think if I look back over the time that we’ve been in this camp, including the last game, we’ve seen good progress.”

DeMerit and Bocanegra have been in full training for a week and appear ready for the field.

The U.S. team leaves Sunday from Washington-Dulles International Airport and arrives in Johannesburg the following day. Once in South Africa, the Americans play Australia in another exhibition June 5 before the first competitive match between the U.S. and England since the 1-0 American upset at the 1950 World Cup.

“It’s going to take this game and all the preparation games and a lot of training, as well, in the next couple weeks to make sure that we’re on the same page,” DeMerit said. “Tomorrow’s a great place to start.”

Of particular interest will be how Bradley uses Clint Dempsey. With Charlie Davies still sidelined from injuries in an October car crash that nearly killed him, Dempsey could be pushed up to forward alongside Altidore.

Or Bradley could opt to start Edson Buddle or Herculez Gomez, the two forwards who came from below the radar a few months ago to make the 23-man roster Wednesday.

Gomez’s mobile phone has been ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

“It’s drained right now. Mentally it’s been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s good that we’re back here training. Once you’re back here training and you get that first sprint in, and you get that rush of adrenaline pumping, you forget about all the kind of circus that surrounds all this.”

Turkey already has signed Guus Hiddink to take over as coach on Aug. 1, and he’s traveling with the team.

“We like to consider it as a serious game,” he said.

That’s exactly what Howard wants. He’d like to develop flowing communication with his defenders, and he has only two matches to work out problems.

“You’re talking about an exercise that takes a whole lot of time, and we don’t have a whole lot of time to do it,” he said. “It’s vitally important that I get things together and I’m pulling the strings.”

That’s exactly what Howard wants. He’d like to develop flowing communication with his defenders, and he has only two matches to work out problems.

“You’re talking about an exercise that takes a whole lot of time, and we don’t have a whole lot of time to do it,” he said. “It’s vitally important that I get things together and I’m pulling the strings.”

Sort of like The Godfather.

“A lot of it is body language. A lot of it is timing and familiarity,” he said. “It’s just something that you don’t do overnight.

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Friday Kicks: U.S. to play Brazil in August, Messi & more

*Will U.S. fans have a chance to see the World Cup winners (um, I don’t mean the U.S.) on American soil?

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The U.S. will play Brazil in an exhibition on Aug. 10 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in the first match for the American soccer team after the World Cup.

Brazil, a five-time world champion, has won 14 of 15 meetings between the teams. The lone American win was 1-0 in Los Angeles in February 1998 at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the match Friday. The game is on a FIFA fixture date, meaning clubs are required to release players to national teams.

*The Columbus Dispatch has a profile on perhaps the Crew’s best scoring threat in Saturday’s game against the Galaxy. Read it here.

*The Washington Post’s Steven Goff provides an update on D.C. United ahead of Saturday’s game against Chivas USA.

Finally, CNN International has an exclusive interview with Lionel Messi:

The interview is part of CNN International’s “South Africa 2010” that airs at 6 p.m. today locally, 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

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Friday Football: Waiting for the (long) weekend

If the weather is good and May gray free (and this weekend temperatures are forecast to rise into the 80s) the Memorial Day weekend is usually one of my favorites in LA.

As usual, folks head out of town leaving relatively empty roads, restaurants, movie theaters and bars in their wake as they sit/stand/sleep/walk cheek to cheek in crowded Vegas, Santa Barbara, Yosemite or wherever.

And as much as still get goosebumps every time I attend a game at Home Depot Center, both Chivas USA and the Galaxy know better than to schedule a home game this weekend, meaning I get to hang around the house and BBQ (well, OK the wife grills, but I do have to keep her wine glass topped up) while watching their games and others on TV.

That doesn’t mean there are no soccer related activities locally however including a couple of soccer festivals:

*The PDL Southwest Division league-leading Ventura County Fusion (4-1) host the Hollywood Hitmen (1-2-2) at 7 o’clock tonight at Buena High, 5670 Telegraph Rd. Military personnel get in free with valid ID.

*Organizers of the inaugural and free Fiesta Soccer Sunday at the LA Memorial Coliseum hope to attract 15,000 to the event aimed primarily at Latinos (but everyone is welcome, of course) with entertainment, activities, booths and futbol celebrities.

*Meanwhile, the estimated 35,000 folks of Croatian heritage who live down in San Pedro hold the fourth annual Croatian Independence Day Small Goals Tournament from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Field of Dreams (Gaffey & Westmont), which is a prelude to the Croatian Independence Day Street Festival in downtown Pedro that begins at 3 p.m. and continues into the night. The biggest event of its kind in the U. S. attracts 3,000 revelers and Croatians from throughout North America (and LA Mayor Antonio Villiagrosa) to enjoy traditional food, music and dance.

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Croatian Independence from Yugoslavia and is a proud day for Croatian-Americans,” said Croatian Hall board member Danijel Blasic.

Should be quite a party.

For those of you who don’t want to leave the comfort of your TV, here are my picks for the games you should not miss this weekend including an MLS showdown between the only two remaining undefeated teams, the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew (6-0-2) and the Western Conference leading Galaxy (8-0-2). Can the Crew (who lead the East in goals with 14), score on a miserly Galaxy defense that has given up just two goals with a third of the season gone?

*10:30 a.m. Saturday ESPN2 and Galavision U.S.-Turkey

*4:30 p.m. Saturday FSN Columbus Crew-Galaxy

*4:30 p.m. Saturday Prime D.C. United-Chivas USA

*5 a.m. Sunday Fox Soccer Channel England-Japan

*8 a.m. Sunday KVEA Mexico-Gambia

*5 p.m. Sunday Chicago Fire-AC Milan.

I understand Galaxy fan group Angel City Brigade will be starting their day at Alpine Village near Torrance to watch the U.S. game, while both the Galaxy and Chivas USA host viewing parties for their road games.

For details, Galaxy fans click here and Chivas USA fans here.

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WPS’ Athletica shuts down, Torrance’s Boxx on second team to fold in consecutive seasons

i-9b903fab84ab4a5363af217d14f87fe6-20080117_wps_medium.jpgIs USWNT holding midfielder Shannon Boxx the kiss of death for WPS teams?

Women’s Professional Soccer announced today that St. Louis Athetica is shutting down immediately after losing its major financial backer, following in the footsteps of the LA Sol, which folded at the end of last season for the same reason.

Boxx (as well as Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama and Tina DiMartino) ended up at Athletica in the Sol dispersal draft; this time around she’ll become a free agent along with her now ex-teammates.

“It’s incredibly difficult to lose a team in mid-season like this,” said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. “We looked at a few options as a league together with our Board and U.S. Soccer, but the operational hurdles and finances just didn’t work out. In the face of a severe funding gap in St. Louis, the local ownership group is shutting down the team at this point.”

Two WPS teams down, seven to go?

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